31 May 2022
Gambling harm and the gambling industry in the ACT
Having worked as an academic researcher in the field of gambling harm for over 15 years, this is a subject very close to my heart; and one on which I’m keen to see positive, and significant, change – in the ACT and nationally.
Australia leads the world in annual gambling losses per capita – expected in 2021-22 to be $25bn.
In 2019, in the ACT, 9.7% of our adult population bet on sports or special events in the last year, and 14.3% bet on a horse or greyhound race.
In the ACT, statistics show that those who bet on sports and special events are more likely to be male (80.2%), are more likely to be below the age of 45 (80.7%), more likely to be born in Australia (77.1%), and more likely to be employed full-time (78%).
The problem lies with the 38.5% of those people that were classified as at-risk gamblers, of which 3.2% were problem gamblers.
Being an at-risk gambler, or experiencing harm from gambling, is more than just losing money. It's about experiencing negative consequences as a result of your gambling in your everyday life. It's about your gambling impacting on your relationships, your mental and physical health, your financial situation, your work.
During the pandemic, sports betting advertising has been prolific – across our TVs, our social media feeds, on our radios, in our newspapers and across most communication channels. Unfortunately, the impact of this advertising is poorly monitored and understood. However, we do know that it’s males who are targeted by advertising and sport related gambling.
We’re a sporting nation, but this shouldn’t mean we’re a betting nation or a nation of problem gamblers.
The Australian Alliance for Gambling Reform states that ‘a 13-year-old today doesn’t know a world without gambling ads. 3 in 4 kids think gambling is a normal part of sport. Enough is enough. We stamped out smoking – now it’s time to kick gambling out of sport!’
I agree – more needs to be done in this space. We need to disassociate sports from gambling.
In addition to banning gambling and sports bet advertising, there may be opportunity to increase taxes placed on sports bookmakers in the ACT and to use those taxes for community outcomes – programs to reduce gambling harm associated with online gambling.
In Private Member’s Business in the ACT’s Legislative Assembly on Wednesday 1 June 2022, I will be calling on the ACT Government to:
- Continue to work with and advocate to the Commonwealth and state and territory governments on the implementation of the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering;
- Conduct a review of the online gambling and advertising market and the impacts of this on the ACT;
- Investigate ACT revenue sources that can be used for harm minimisation activities for the ACT community that target online gambling;
- Consider ways to raise community awareness (particularly targeting groups in the population susceptible to online gambling harm) around the risks of online gambling
- Report back to the Assembly by December 2023.
I will continue to keep pressure on this issue and will keep the community updated on progress.
- 1 June 2022 - Moving the Motion in the ACT's Legislative Assembly (unfortunately I was unable to move my motion in-person and deliver my own speech due to Covid ilness. However, Ms Suzanne Orr MLA moved the motion on my behalf and delivered this speech).
- 31 May 2022, Canberra Times - 'Labor MLA Marisa Paterson to push ACT Assembly for online gambling review'
- 31 May 2022, City News - 'Motion calls for online gambling review'
- 1 June 2022, the Riotact - 'Not 'appy: government told online gambling harm as dangerous as pokies'
If you need help, please contact the ACT Gambling Support Service on 1800 858 858 https://actgamblingsupport.org.au/